October 25, 2015: Leon Nicaragua

This morning the Miller family left Matagalpa to drive back out the way that we came into town two nights ago but this time in the morning sun so that we were able to really get a view of the area.  We would have never guessed what gorgeous farmland was out there from our night time drive.

The drive down to Sebaco from Matagalpa was very nice, coming down from the high mountains.  Sebaco is a beautiful town, which I had guessed from the drive through it two nights ago.  It looked pretty nice even in the dark.  One of the first places where we’ve seen super broad streets with protected biking areas on either side.

We fueled up in Sebaco and turned to the west to take route 1 to route 26.  This area is a high plateau, wide and flat between the mountain ranges.  A totally gorgeous area, just the most amazing farmland.

We drove for a few hours, the going is very slow on these roads.  But it was a wonderful day and we all enjoyed the drive.

As we got closer to the west we got to see more and more volcanoes around us.  There was one, at first, far off in the distance.  But eventually we saw about seven of them.  Two we were extremely close to.  One was clearly smoking quite a lot very close to us.  We stopped a few times to take pictures.  It was all amazing.

We got to Leon around noon.  We had made no reservations but had looked ahead to see where we would likely want to stay and knew that the Hotel Azul looked to be very much our style.  Not cheap but not bad, something on the fancier side and a bit of a change of pace.

Getting into Leon starts off as the most gorgeous approach through tree lined avenues but once you are into the city it is very run down and dirty.  It has a certain charm, but only so much of one.  Mostly it just seems to be unkempt.

It did not take too much work to find the hotel.  We parked on the Avenida Central and I ran in and booked the family suite.  It was a staggering $100 a night, a small fortune in Nicaraguan terms, but it seemed really nice and we did not know where else would make sense in town.  But we could not get into the room for a few hours.  So we decided to leave town and drive to the coast until it was ready.

This proved to be more challenging that it should have been because Google maps, again, steered us completely wrong and took us out of town on a road that, while it went it the right direction (after Google took us the wrong way down a one way) ended in a culvert a few score meters shy of the intersection that we needed so while a 4×4 or someone hiking could get through, a normal car could not.

We ended up driving through some weeds and along a dirt trail and made it to the road that we needed and continued on to the coast.  The drive out of Leon was interesting as it was lined with amazing mansions in what must have been the equivalent of a Leonese suburb.

The drive through the county to the coast was nice.  At the coast we got to the beach at Penoloya.  Nothing special there.  We found a place to drive to the beach itself, parked in a lot by a bar, sat down and got drinks while the girls played in the sand.  The water was too rough to let them go down to the water.  We walked down but could not go in.  Nearly all of Central America has dangerous surf on the Pacific side so you really need to be cautious.

By the time that we returned to Leon our room at the Hotel Azul was ready.  We got into the room which had three beds and was in the back corner past the pool  The public area is lovely with a pool right in the middle like our house, all lit in blue (or course) with a cool swinging lounge chair that the girls were very excited about.

Dominica and the girls were tired, so they relaxed for a bit and I took a long walk around the city and took some pictures and got the lay of the land.  Leon is famous for its old churches but has little else to offer.  It is not an “activity” city. It has some restaurants, bars, and other normal things but little to draw in a visitor.  This is Nicaragua’s second largest city.

Once I returned I showered, dressed and we went out to find dinner.  We discussed this for quite a while and could not figure out what anyone wanted.  Leon is a bit famous for the restaurants downtown being overpriced and of low quality.  So very little that was very enticing.

Dominica did manage to find the sister ice cream shop to the one in Matagalpa that we had sought yesterday evening and so we started our dinner by going there and getting that out of the way before anything went wrong and we did not manage to do it.

The ice cream from Kiss Me was very good.  They had a neat selection of flavours.  Dominica and I were adventurous; the girls got vanilla.  That’s how we roll.

We attempted to have dinner at a Polish – Sri Lankan restaurant that was well reviewed but after finding it, it turned out to be closed.  So we just went to the local Chinese place which was perfectly good and we enjoyed our food.  It was not too expensive and, in reality, I am sure that the girls enjoyed their food far more from there.

After dinner we just returned to the hotel and were off to sleep.